Category: astronomy

June 5, 2019 Off

Astronomers fret over ‘debilitating threat’ of thousands of satellites cluttering the sky

By Jill T Frey

The promise of today’s nascent communications satellite constellations is real: connecting everyone on the globe, no exceptions. But the dark side, or rather bright side, of these satellites threatens to pollute the sky with innumerable points of moving light. Astronomers warn that this may pose a “debilitating threat” if not addressed by regulators or industry.

The International Astronomical Union, a group of more than 10,000 astronomers and researchers all over the world, issued a statement this week politely but firmly pointing out the risks of this “new and largely unregulated frontier of space utilisation.”

The problem is that we have graduated from an era where we were launching a satellite every month or so to one where dozens might be launched every week. The competing communications constellations from Starlink, OneWeb, and others will number in the tens of thousands once deployed, outnumbering by far every other satellite in the sky.… Read the rest

April 24, 2019 Off

NASA and FEMA are contingency planning for a potential asteroid armageddon

By Jill T Frey

When it comes to planning for a potential asteroid strike on planet Earth, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency don’t want to miss a thing.

Alongside international partners like the European Space Agency’s Space Situational Awareness-NEO Segment and the International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN), NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office will participate in a “tabletop exercise” that will simulate a scenario for how to respond to an asteroid on an impact trajectory with the Earth (it’s unclear whether Billy Bob Thornton, Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck or Liv Tyler will participate).

NASA and its partners have actually been on the lookout for potentially calamitous near-Earth objects (which are asteroids, comets or unidentified objects that come within 30 million miles of Earth) for more than 20 years.

The tabletop exercise is a simulation used in disaster management planning to help inform organizations that would be relevant … Read the rest